VATICAN CITY – The Vatican moved on Thursday one step closer to its traditional representation of Christmas after a crane erected a large tree and work continued on a nativity scene made of sand prior to their unveiling early next month by the pope.
This year’s Vatican Christmas tree, also known as St. Peter’s Square Christmas Tree, was a spruce presented by the provincial authorities of Pordenone, a commune in northeast Italy. Both the donors of the tree and the sand artisans would meet Pope Francis prior to the unveiling of both decorations.
“The preparations and sand sculpting, alongside the arrival and decoration of the Christmas tree, will culminate in their inauguration on Dec. 7,” the Holy See’s news site Vatican News said.
The Vatican tradition of placing both a Christmas tree and a life-sized nativity scene dates back to 1982 when Polish-born Pope John Paul II introduced the festive custom.
The 1982 tree was a fir from the Colli Albani area, southeast of Rome, and since then, donating the Vatican Christmas Tree has become a coveted honor sought by many European countries and regions.
The “Jesolo Sand Nativity” requiring some 700 tons of sand, is crafted by guest artisans and artists from around the world.
Both tree and nativity preparations were on schedule for their Dec. 7 unveiling.